Anthony Bourdain's Biggest Celebrity Feuds

The following article includes mentions of suicide.

The culinary world was left in a state of shock when chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain died by suicide in 2018. His death was confirmed by CNN, where his hit travel and food show "Parts Unknown" aired for 12 seasons between 2013 and 2018, picking up 12 Primetime Emmys along the way. "His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much," the network said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time." He was filming an episode of his show (which took him as far afield as Myanmar, Bhutan, and the Congo) in France when he was found "unresponsive in his hotel room" by his friend Eric Ripert. "Anthony was my best friend," the French chef tweeted. "An exceptional human being, so inspiring & generous. One of the great storytellers." He was 61.

He was so well respected that everyone who's anyone paid tribute to Bourdain upon his death, including some of the people he locked horns with. He never pulled punches when it came to sharing his opinions, and while that's part of what made him so compelling to watch, it also led to a lot of beef — and not of the roast variety. The native New Yorker exchanged cross words with numerous celebs over the years, and he usually came out on top. From fellow famous chefs to former presidents, we've compiled a list of Anthony Bourdain's biggest celebrity feuds.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Anthony Bourdain called Guy Fieri a 'douche'

Anthony Bourdain embarked on his nationwide "Close to the Bone" tour in 2015, and it certainly lived up to its name. The "Parts Unknown" host regaled audiences with tales of his travels, but he also dedicated a considerable amount of time to throwing shade at other famous chefs. He took aim at a number of Food Network stars, with bleach-blond restaurateur Guy Fieri getting burned pretty hard. "I sort of feel in a heartfelt way for Guy," Bourdain said at his Atlanta show (via Atlanta magazine). "I wonder about him. He's 52 years old and still rolling around in the flame outfit ... What does he do? How does Guy Fieri de-douche?"

Fieri (who was actually still in his 40s at the time) called Bourdain's comments "disappointing" when he sat down for an interview with GQ a few months later. "I don't like him making fun of people, and I don't like him talking s***," he said. "And he's never talked s*** to my face." He went on to suggest that Bourdain's tirade against several Food Network stars was borderline obsessive. "It's just, What are you doing? What is your instigation? You have nothing else to f****** worry about than if I have bleached hair or not? I mean, f***." Bourdain defended his words when he spoke to People, saying, "The day you can't tell jokes about Guy Fieri, comedy as we know it is dead."

Rachael Ray is 'evil,' according to Bourdain

As the host of the Food Network's "30 Minute Meals" and the author of several associated cookbooks, Rachael Ray is a big name in the food world. She's one of the stars of the network, but, according to Anthony Bourdain, her show sets the bar way too low. "She's selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough," Bourdain wrote in a 2007 guest post on Michael Ruhlman's blog. "She's a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that 'Even your dumb, lazy a** can cook this!'" The "Parts Unknown" host took aim at Ray again later that year, accusing her of going "over the line" with her promotion of junk food.

While speaking to Outside magazine, Bourdain expressed concern for Ray's younger fans. "And she's endorsing Dunkin' Donuts. It's like endorsing crack for kids," he opined. The no-nonsense chef went on to say that while he didn't consider himself to be "a very ethical guy," he couldn't help but be appalled by what he saw as Ray's double standards. He said, "Juvenile diabetes has exploded. Half of Americans don't have necks. And she's up there saying, 'Eat some f****** Dunkin' Donuts. You look great in that swimsuit — eat another doughnut!' That's evil." Ray's representatives said that they "respectfully disagree with Anthony's opinion" in a statement (via Page Six). "Anyone who knows Rachael and watches her on TV is aware she promotes balance and moderation, instead of living life in extremes."

He dissed Wolfgang Puck's pizza restaurants

Nobody will deny that chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck has been an important figure on the global food scene over the past few decades, not even Anthony Bourdain. He recognized the Austrian's influence when he gave an interview to Playboy in 2011, saying that Puck used to be like Marco Pierre White in that he didn't need to be on TV to be famous. "It was about the chef now," Bourdain said of Puck's triumphant rise.

Puck was inspiring to Bourdain, but, according to the "Parts Unknown" host, he sold out when he started putting his name on everything. "Listen, I'm not eating in his s***** pizza restaurants," Bourdain said. "I think it's bulls***, and it breaks my heart to see him on QVC or whatever, but the fact is he paid his dues. He's an important guy. It's an Orson Welles thing: He made 'Citizen Kane,' so it doesn't matter what he does after that. If Wolfgang Puck wants to open crappy pizzerias in airports all over America, that's f****** fine." Yikes.

Despite the shade, there was always a respect there, and it was a mutual one. When Bourdain died, Puck praised him for doing "a great service for the food world" with his show. "Enjoying a moment with great food is the most important part of life," the Austrian told The Week. "Anthony did an amazing job of showcasing this; he explored different experiences but always including food in this experience."

Anthony Bourdain called Paula Deen the 'most dangerous person in America'

Anthony Bourdain once wrote in a blog that he was "reluctant to bash what seems to be a nice old lady," but he went ahead and threw a bunch of shade at celebrity chef Paula Deen anyway. The sharp-tongued traveler went to town on Deen and her shows in a post shared on the website of renowned culinary author Michael Ruhlman in 2007. "A recent Hawaii show was indistinguishable from an early John Waters film," Bourdain said. "And the food on a par with the last scene of 'Pink Flamingos.'" For those unfamiliar with Waters' cult film (a contender for "most outrageous film ever made," said the BBC), the famous ending involves dog excrement.

Bourdain's criticism of Deen, known for her Southern cuisine, became a lot more personal over the next few years. Speaking to TV Guide in 2011, he said that Deen is "proud of the fact that her food is f****** bad for you" and dubbed her the "most dangerous person in America." He added, "I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it's OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks." Deen responded by telling Page Six that Bourdain should "get a life," and the reaction from her fans was apparently even stronger. "I received a lot of scary mail and Facebook posts," Bourdain told Rolling Stone (via Us Weekly). "It was the first time I've ever been frightened."

The chef discussed Donald Trump in his final interview

In 2016, Anthony Bourdain ate at a no-frills restaurant in Vietnam with a very special guest. "Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer," he captioned a picture from his meal with then-president Barack Obama. When Bourdain died in 2018, Obama quoted those exact words in a tribute tweet. The two men were good friends, but Bourdain had nothing nice to say about Obama's successor. Shortly after the Obama episode aired, The Wrap asked the New Yorker if he would ever consider eating with Donald Trump, and he said, "I would give the same answer that I would have given 10 years ago, when he was just as loathsome."

In 2018 — in what would turn out to be his final interview — Bourdain said that he was waiting for someone to give Trump a good dressing down. "Somebody at the White House press briefing has to sacrifice their job and say, 'You utter piece of s***! Do you really expect us to swallow that steaming load of horses***? How do you live with yourself? You should be ashamed,'" he said (via Popula). "Give me one guy to throw themselves on a fire like that ... for that infinitely repeatable meme." When news of Bourdain's death by suicide reached the White House, the president offered his condolences to the family. "I think it's very sad," Trump said (via Newsweek). "I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character, I will say."

Anthony Bourdain called Sandra Lee a 'Hell Spawn'

Andrew Cuomo's former partner Sandra Lee won a Daytime Emmy for her Food Network show "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee" in 2012, by which point Anthony Bourdain had made his opinion on her style of cooking crystal clear. Lee's "semi-homemade" approach involves cooking with store-bought goods rather than fresh ingredients. It supposedly saves hours and money, but a number of recipes from her cookbooks are actually more time-consuming and costly, said The New York Times. Bourdain described Lee as "pure evil" in his infamous blog post, calling her a "frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker [who] seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time."

Bourdain often referenced Lee's infamous "Kwanzaa Cake," which went offended many and went viral for all the wrong reasons. He dunked on the widely-mocked YouTube video when he spoke to Eat Me Daily in 2009. "Watch that clip and tell me your eyeballs don't burst into flames," he said. "It's a war crime on television. You'll scream." He described the video as "eye-searing" in his book "Medium Raw" (via Goodreads) the following year, revealing that it made him "mad for all humanity." As scathing as they were, Lee didn't take Bourdain's comments to heart. When he died in 2018, she paid tribute to him on Twitter, writing: "He was a gifted, smart, articulate man and even though could be incredibly critical, especially of me, somehow that was part of his charm."

Adam Richman made people 'want to join ISIS,' Bourdain said

Anthony Bourdain brutally roasted Adam Richman, best known as the host of "Man v. Food." On the show, Richman traveled to different restaurants to attempt their supersized eating challenges. During his 2015 North American tour, Bourdain revealed that he saw people watching Richman's show during visits to the Middle East. "The show confirms their worst suspicions — that Americans are fat, lazy, slothful, wasteful," he said during his Atlanta gig (via Atlanta magazine), adding that it probably made people "want to join ISIS."

In 2012, Richman told Food Republic that he and Bourdain were actually friends, but he criticized the opinionated "Parts Unknown" host for being a touch too acerbic at times. "Lord knows he definitely has strong opinions about a lot of the s*** I do," Richman stated. During a 2021 interview with Mashed, he admitted that some of Bourdain's comments cut deep, including remarks he made on "The Late Show with David Letterman" in 2011. Bourdain joked that viewers tuned in to "Man v. Food" because they wanted to see Richman "choke on that burger" and "die."

According to Richman, Bourdain did something out of character when he confronted him about how upsetting his words were: He apologized. Bourdain also shared some words of wisdom. "You have to acknowledge that there is going to be a portion of sick Fs that are hoping something bad happens to you ... And you have to just block things and move on," Richman recalled to Mashed.

He called Gordon Ramsay's shady trademark move 'pathetic'

Anthony Bourdain had nothing but good things to say about Gordon Ramsay's cooking (he raved about it when he visited his restaurant for a 2002 episode of his show "A Cook's Tour"), but he was not a big fan of Ramsay's most famous show. "Gordon's actually a really sweet, nice guy," Bourdain said at a 2008 book signing, before adding: "I hate 'Hell's Kitchen.' I thought that show was so bad." Bourdain would change his opinion on Ramsay's status as a "nice guy" in 2012 when it emerged that he had attempted to trademark "Spotted Pig" in the U.K., the name of an existing Stateside restaurant developed by the chef, April Bloomfield.

"That Gordon Ramsay would register [the] name 'Spotted Pig' in London and screw April Bloomfield (who built the brand) over is shameful, pathetic," Bourdain tweeted. It wasn't a good look for Ramsay. According to Grub Street, his shady trademark move led "everyone and their mother to speculate that he was trying to prevent April Bloomfield, Ken Friedman, and one-time rival Mario Batali from opening a branch of their successful New York restaurant across the pond." In February 2013, three months after making the trademark application, Ramsay relented and withdrew it, Eater revealed.

Ramsay was "stunned and saddened" to hear about Bourdain's death in 2018, he said in a tweet. "He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food."

He called Alain Ducasse 'a villain'

Anthony Bourdain heaped praise on respected chefs Wylie Dufresne and Grant Achatz in his 2010 book "Medium Raw," calling them "a hero" and "genius" of the restaurant game, respectively. "Alain Ducasse, on the other hand, is a villain," he added (via Grub Street). Why? "Because he almost single-handedly brought down fine dining in America with his absurdly pretentious restaurant Alain Ducasse New York. [...] To use an egregiously overused expression, ADNY was where fine dining jumped the shark." ADNY opened to much fanfare, but the prices (the tasting menu was "one-third more than any other menu in town," said the New York Post) put the punters off. Ducasse said: "If people will not accept this price, we will go elsewhere," which is exactly what his potential customers did.

In 2007, seven years after the Essex House restaurant launched, ADNY closed its doors for the final time. It tanked because Ducasse "rolled into New York with his bad attitude, ungracious proclamations of how exclusive his new place would be, how unwelcome New Yorkers might be — if they were not already acquainted with Himself via Monaco or Paris," Bourdain wrote in "Medium Raw." According to the native New Yorker, the French chef "did nothing so much as drop a gigantic Cleveland Steamer into a small pond previously occupied by his much smarter and savvier compatriots." Ducasse and New York got off on the wrong foot, and ADNY would never shake its reputation for being "the restaurant New Yorkers loved to hate," said Robb Report.

Anthony Bourdain clashed with Alice Waters over farm-to-table food

Anthony Bourdain always had a love/hate relationship with Alice Waters, founder of the farm-to-table restaurant Chez Panisse. Bourdain agreed with her on a lot of points, but he found Waters to be unrealistic and condescending in her approach to pushing farm-to-table food. "She's just so spectacularly tone deaf and constantly saying the wrong thing that she's a polarizing figure for a cause that should be, in the best-case scenario, sort of a ground-up, grassroots kind of a movement," he told NPR.

There's an entire chapter about Waters in "Medium Raw," and in it, Bourdain calls her out for cooking "a single egg over a roaring wood fire in her Berkeley home" during a "60 Minutes" interview. "I don't know about you, but burning up a couple of cords of firewood for a single f****** egg doesn't exactly send a message of sustainability." Bourdain also claimed that Waters, despite her standing in the food world, doesn't seem to have ever gotten her hands dirty in the kitchen. "After reading all the accounts, official and unofficial, of Alice's career and the history of Chez Panisse, can't find a single supporting source to verify she was ever a chef," he wrote.

They had their ups and downs, but Waters paid tribute to Bourdain and his influential show when he died in 2018. "He introduced the chefs and validated that person's work and he did this around the world," she said, per ABC 7.

He made up with the 'Ewok-like' Emeril Lagasse

Anthony Bourdain and Emeril Lagasse were good friends when the former died in 2018, but that wasn't always the case. Bourdain called the TV chef "Ewok-like" his memoir "Kitchen Confidential," referring to him as "fuzzy little Emeril." Seven years after the release of his bestseller, Bourdain admitted in a blog post that his opinion on Lagasse had softened since he found fame himself. "I STILL find him unwatchable," he said but added, "As much mileage as I've gotten over the years, making fun of Emeril; he deserves a lot more respect than I've given him."

By the time he got to writing his follow-up book, "Medium Raw," Bourdain had come to understand Lagasse's career choices. The pair co-hosted the roast of Mario Batali together, which gave Bourdain a chance to get under the skin of the man he had mocked on numerous occasions. He wanted to know why Lagasse didn't just retire and live out his days enjoying his fortune. "I asked him why he gave a f***," Bourdain wrote. "He smiled tolerantly, then began listing [...] all the people who'd helped him along the way and who now relied on him, in one form or another, for their living."

Lagasse paid tribute to Bourdain on Twitter following his death. "I'm shocked and extremely saddened by the tragic loss of such an inspiring man," he said. "Tony was a great soul, a mentor, a friend, a father, and an incredible chef."